Abuse & The Virus - Guest Blog by Natalie Collins

Abuse & The Virus - Guest Blog by Natalie Collins

Thanks to Natalie Colline for this excellent guest blog...

One of the most challenging things about domestic violence is that rarely does the person who is being subjected to abuse realise that they are being abused.  A victim is one of those women, the shrivelled up ones who (according to most stock images) cowering in a corner with a bruised face.  And their partner isn’t one of those men.  He’s a good guy really.  He doesn’t mean it.  It’s only because of all the stress and he had a really bad childhood and he loves me and soon things will get back to how they used to be.  To take the step of acknowledging that our partner is abusive is a huge thing.  Once it’s not “me overreacting”, “his difficult childhood”, “the way I push him to the edge”, “how passionate he is”, “only that one time when he left me bruised”, once we label it ABUSE, everything changes.  Nothing can go on as normal.  We have to take action.  We have to accept that our relationship must end and that our children will lose their father and nothing will ever be the same again.  And that’s before we begin to reckon with all the ways his behaviour will escalate if we try to leave.  Around 80% of men who kill women, do so within eighteen months of her leaving him.


Men are more abusive over Christmas.  Often people think it’s because of the stress, the money worries and the increased alcohol consumption.  But that’s not why.  It’s because an abuser deliberately destroys whatever is precious to his partner and children.  He destroys birthday celebrations and anniversaries.  Some abusers destroy every family mealtime, leaving their children with eating disorders because their father (or step father) has thrown food, screamed at their mother, or gone into that silent sulk which they all know ends in him being violent.  The other reason abusers are worse at Christmas is because there is greater opportunity to abuse.  Most people get time off over Christmas, and the abuser will use those extra hours to demand he get whatever he wants.  And because it’s Christmas, his partner will acquiesce, because she wants to make it special for the kids; because where would she go on Christmas Day when he’s kicked the Christmas tree over?  On Christmas Eve he pushes her to do sexual stuff she doesn’t like, but he promises her that if she does what he wants, he’ll make Christmas nice.  So she does what he wants.  Then on Christmas Day she asks him to help with the dinner and he kicks off and blames her for ruining Christmas.  And she just wishes that she’d not asked for help, he was tired after all.


You may be wondering why I’m writing about Christmas when we’re dealing with a global pandemic…  It’s because this crisis, and the self-isolation and physical distancing caused by it, creates the similar context as living with an abuser at Christmas, but about a million times worse.


He’s now at home 24/7, not just for three days.  He uses his need to work from home to demand that everyone in the home stays silent all day.  If his partner can’t keep their three-year-old silent; he screams, punches walls or makes threats that she’s knows he’ll carry out later.  He’s always hated her speaking on the phone with her friends or family and normally she waits until he’s out of the house to call them, because he’ll tut or huff and puff throughout the phone call.  Now she can’t speak to her anyone.  And then he says he’s started with a temperature and they all need to stay in for fourteen days.  She hasn’t seen any evidence he’s got a temperature, but she daren’t question him as she knows he’ll hurt her, or worse, take out his outrage at her insolence on the kids.


And she can’t leave now.  He’s there all the time.  She’d thought about it before, was just waiting for the right time.  But now the kids are off school and don’t have any stability and so she can’t move into a refuge.  And anyway, she’ll be exposing her asthmatic seven-year-old to the virus.  She keeps trying to make everything nice for them all, exhausting herself to make things nice.  He always leads her to believe that she can “make” him nice, if she only plays by his rules.  But then he changes them, or the kids needs something that means she has to break them.  Her job say she can’t have time off as she’s a carer.  But she knows he won’t look after them properly.  He’ll undermine her and play fight with them until they cry and then when she gets home, he’ll keep her up until 4am in the morning interrogating her about which male co-workers she interacted with, accusing her of having an affair.  She says she can’t go into work and her line manager is horrified at her lack of commitment in this crisis and fires her right there and then.  She daren’t cry, because he’ll mock and deride her for it.  She dreads Sunday, when he’ll demand that she and the children participate in the online streamed church service that he’s been planning, the one that was so important all of them had to be silent for three days straight.  Afterwards, he whispers to her that he’s never punched her in the face because people might see it, but now things are different.  She’s his and he’ll do what he wants to her.


Specialist domestic abuse services are working around the clock to make their provision effective for women during this epidemic, but due to ideologically driven cuts, they’ve already been stripped back, defunded and de-specialised.  For each of us, there’s not a lot we can do to make a difference while also social distancing and self-isolating.  Abusers are making choices to isolate, control, abuse and harm their partners and children, and the only people who can stop abuse are those who choose to be abusive.  But it’s important that we understand what abuse is, what the dynamics are, and how this virus is going to hugely increase women’s vulnerability.  It’s crucial that we don’t perpetuate myths about abuse; it’s not the stress or financial difficulties caused by the virus that is increasing perpetration, it’s about increased opportunity.  Women who don’t leave abusers are not stupid or wrong; they are doing everything they can to keep themselves and their children safe.  Abusers deliberately act in ways that prevent their partner making sense of what is going on or being able to articulate it as abuse; so doing announcements about “if you’re being abused we can help you” is not really going to reach that many of the people who need support.


What can we do as we continue into this unknown place?


  1. Contact your local domestic abuse and ask them how you can help; do they need financial support, donations, volunteers to drive/move/clean?
  2. Educate yourself about domestic abuse (my book can help with that).
  3. Be aware that if someone is being abused, their online interactions may be tracked.
  4. Notice who isn’t able to engage with your community; who isn’t on Facebook/Twitter/Whatsapp, and see if there’s a way to check in with them some other way.
  5. Facebook is particularly risky for those who have left an ex-partner, because it is very easy for him to find her. Ensure you have an additional option other than Facebook for engaging with those in your community.
  6. If you hear violence or noise from a neighbour’s home, call the police (use 999 if you are concerned it is an emergency).
  7. Be vigilant. Are there people in your family or friendship group, amongst your colleagues, church community or neighbourhood who are acting differently, whose communications have gone down dramatically or who seem withdrawn or different.  Try to make regular contact with them.
  8. Be aware. When you do your shopping, are there women and children who seem overly subdued, or is there a man behaving in domineering ways (abusive men will be emboldened in a context where they have so much uninterrupted space to abuse, and this may be visible in the brief encounters we have with people).
  9. Trust women. If someone tells you something that sounds abusive, if they talk about feeling suffocated by their partner, if they say they feel scared or need help to leave, believe them straight away.  Whatever they tell you will be the tip of a very horrific iceberg.


If you identify with the abusive behaviour detailed in this post, it may have shocked you to become aware that what is being done to you (or what you are doing to someone else) is abusive.

If you are recognising that what is being done to you is wrong and if it is safe to do so, here are some places that can help:


If you are concerned about your behaviour towards a partner, you can contact the Respect perpetrator helpline: (0808 802 4040).


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Coronavirus News - Updated Thu 26 March

Coronavirus News - Updated Thu 26 March
Thu 26 March
The churches are now closed to the public, and even to the vicar!  But we are still active about the business that matters.  Today, requests for help have begun to really flow, and it's been great to pair needs with keen volunteers in Mulbarton.  Today, I've been able to match up half a dozen or more.  At the moment, I have more volunteers on my list than people asking for help, but it's feeling like that may change soon.  There are a lot more homes where people need help, especially for the over 70s, who should not be going to the shops themselves.
Please do let me know if you can offer to help with shopping or collecting prescriptions for those in the vulnerable category.  For those volunteering, I need your name, the street where you live, your phone number, and whether you use WhatsApp or FB messenger, and would be willing to join a group.
I am trying to pair volunteers with those in need, so people can build a relationship over these weeks/months, and to share the load as much as possible - but I'd also like to have a WhatsApp or FB group (or both) for volunteers, where we can all call for emergency help, cover each other, or just encourage one another.
Also, check out our Facebook page, for some Italian-style encouragement, and please do read the item on the website from our guest blogger, Natalie, which describes what is really happening for some people, being subjected to abuse, in this time of confinement.  Something I wish everyone would read and be sensitive about.
And, finally, some helpful guidance on mental health and wellbeing and COVID-19 from the Church of England.


Tue 24 March
These are new days of joining others in our community, of all faiths and none, to serve anyone in need.  The archbishops are encouraging churches to adapt, and do things differently, so here are some of the things we are doing  across the four parishes to contribute to the kind and generous efforts of so many in our communities:
 · Helping co-ordinate neighbourhood assistance, to enable vulnerable to receive supplies, without fear of exploitation—offers of help welcome!
· Providing a safe space for those needing to escape a difficult domestic situation
· Signposting to Riches Trust and other small trust funds that can provide financial help
· Co-ordinating local efforts to feed the hungry in emergency need, including weekly donations to Norwich Foodbank—donations welcome!
· Providing spiritual support and community for the isolated via phone calls, messages and live streaming Sunday worship, prayer, Bible study and chat meetings
· Connecting community leaders, to share ideas, information, resources and encouragement and to ask questions
· Liaising with South Norfolk Help Hub, our local Community Connector, and parishioners and families, to ensure specialist services continue for people who need them
· Offering funerals as normal, but with strict minimal numbers present
· Praying daily, and chiming Mulbarton church bell as allowed, as a sign of solidarity and offer of hope - but only when I'm allowed in, which currently is NOT the case!
· Following guidelines, keeping safe & being kind!

Our vision to be a community of people who are following Jesus, and sharing life’s journey with our neighbours, is undaunted.
*If you need anything mentioned here, please contact me in the first instance, or check website for the latest:
Rev Adrian Miller 01508 571167 (links to Facebook & YouTube from website)
 For urgent specialist help, please contact South Norfolk Council Help Hub 01508 533933


Sat 21 March
As you know church services are suspended in this season of social distancing.  For that reason, tomorrow morning, we'll be trying something new.  If you'd like to join the live stream, simply click the link below, and enter the Meeting ID.  We'll get going at about 10am, but you'll be able to join before or after.  Everything will be recorded, and made available on the church website, Facebook Page and YouTube channel, so you can always catch up later.

This is a first, so we may discover gremlins together, but I think we'll be OK!  You can join in on PC, laptop, tablet or phone.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 993 672 961

If like me, you do decide to go for a couple of laps stroll around the Common tomorrow morning after the live stream, please do make sure you keep plenty of distance between yourself and others.  The distancing measures are designed to save lives.


Fri 20 March

Church Services are suspended until further notice, but worship will continue.  I'll be saying prayers this Sunday morning, there will be something live streamed at 10am, and at 11am, I'll be going for a stroll in the village, keeping at least 2 metres away from everybody.  If I see you out and about then, I'll give a wave and shout hello from a distance!
PCC meetings are now suspended and annual meetings will be postponed.  Pretty much nothing left in my diary now, except for non-contact pastoral work, prayer, planning and ctaching up with preparing for a Zoom-filled ministry!
For those who give regularly in the offering plate at church, please do consider setting up a standing order.
Work is in progress to connect leaders within the community, to share ideas, resources and information, and to ensure vulnerable parishioners are kept safe.
*** Please do not let anyone you don't know and trust into your home, and do not give them cash, card or PINs.  Some people locally have been scammed by unscrupulous people, posing as philanthropists.  ***
If you know of anyone in need in the parishes or would like to offer help, please do get in touch.  If you have food or supplies to offer, please do bring to church.  If you desperately and urgently require supplies, please come to the Rectory to enquire.  Food offered in Mulbarton will be available to parishioners.  Any surplus stock will be regularly taken to Norwich Foodbank, who are in need.
If you need a safe place to escape to, please come to the Rectory.  All bookings at Harvest House have been cancelled, so that is now available for me to use at my discretion as a safe house in the village.  Please do spread that news.  For many this could be a much-needed lifeline.
While this is a challenging time for everyone, for those who live with an abuser, being stuck full-time in the home is an absolute nightmare. It is likely that many abusers will take advantage of the virus measures to further isolate and hurt their partner and children. There is no longer the refuge of schools or extra groups to provide respite from the terror and violence a parent, carer or other family member may be subjecting them to. If your income is stable and you are able to, please do also consider donating to Leeways, as they will be really struggling with demand at this time.


Wed 18 March
Neighbour help postcards available at back of church - open daylight hours - please help yourself, write your phone number on and let me know which streets you've delivered to - so encouraging to see such good community spirit.
For those without relevant safeguarding checks, please don't enter people's homes. If you're picking up shopping or prescriptions, best practice is to pay up-front, leave the receipt when you deliver the shopping and come back the next day to collect payment by cheque. For safety, avoid cash.
For those receiving shopping or prescriptions, please don't pay by card or cash, and don't reveal your card's PIN to anyone.
Fabulous that so many are wanting to help, but let's make sure we're all protected and safe, and not adopt a system that anybody unscrupulous could use to exploit the vulnerable.


Mon 16 March

The Church of England is going to update their guidance in response to the latest government guidance about cancelling unnecessary social gatherings very soon.
Things are going to change in the coming weeks and months, and as the normal structures for conducting ministry cease, we will be re-directing our energies on doing all we can to support the most vulnerable in our communities.
I'll post again as soon as we hear what comes from national church leadership, and after I've consulted churchwardens across the benefice.
Please note, coffee and prayer tomorrow morning, Tuesday 17th, will NOT be happening.


Fri 13 March

We are now in a serious pandemic situation, which is new ground for most of us.  What I have been doing, and will continue to do, is to monitor the advice given by government and church and make sure we're doing our utmost to follow that advice.

There are some things we have been advised to suspend, including Messy Church and Open the Book collective worship at school.  Mulbarton Mardlers is also suspended for the time being, given the church advice is to suspend catering, and given the clientele are the most at risk.

The advice is that church services should NOT be suspended, but that various measures are taken to ensure they are as safe as can be.  You will notice these being adopted this Sunday.  These include:

  • Asking people to wash hands as they come into church.  Washing hands can be done using alcohol sanitiser or with soap and water for 20 seconds minimum.  Try as I might, I have not been able to source hand sanitiser.  If you have your own, please do bring it to the church service with you, and apply it as you enter.  Where we don't have running water, we will make arrangements for hand-washing to be available, using flasks and individual paper towels.  If you are coming to Mulbarton's 10am, you might want to call in at Harvest House to wash hands first.
  • Distribution of bread only at Communion while standing - no common cup and no kneeling at the rail
  • No shaking hands, laying on of hands or oils, and no sharing a sign of peace
  • No passing around of collection plates or bags - plate at back of church to receive the offering - please feel free to place your offering in the plate on entering the building
  • Suspending coffee and biscuits where multiple people touch mugs, utensils and foodstuffs.  This Sunday, there will be refreshments served at Harvest House, but not self-service, and ensuring careful hand hygiene for those in the kitchen and using paper cups, which you can place directly in the bin after use.  Similar measures will be in place in Bracon Ash.  Churchwardens of the benefice are meeting me on Tuesday, and we'll decide then longer term plans for serving refreshments.
  • Door handles regularly cleaned.
If you have a high temperature or persistent cough, please seek and follow the latest NHS advice.

If you do need to self-isolate, we've been advised not to visit you in person, but we will ensure we are regularly in touch on the phone or by messaging, so please do let us know.

Praying for God's blessing, protection and peace for us all in this anxiety-inducing season.

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Book Exchange Flordon

Book Exchange Flordon

It has been some years since the Parish Council kindly bought the phone box for £1, I would say that was a pound well spent. There is always plenty of books to choose from and the stock is changing regularly. Alasdair and I have given the book exchange a coat of paint and tidied the area around the box and it is lovely to see the bench back by the book exchange. We were delighted to see a family eating their packed lunch there at the weekend and browsing through a couple of books. Thank you all for your continued support in bringing books for us all to read, its wonderful.

Pearl x


Flordon Book Exchange 2019




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Flordon Breakfast Club

Flordon Breakfast Club

On Sunday 18th March 2018, Flordon Breakfast Club returned for another successful, very sociable morning.

Thirty seven 'Flordonites' joined us to enjoy a full English breakfast and a Sunday morning natter.

Thank you to all who all came along! We hope to see you again!

Helen, Sarah, Emma, and Cynthia

See some more photos here.

PS Next fry up coming in June 2019! 


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Harvest Supper 2017

Harvest Supper 2017

Folk enjoyed a great supper and hearty sing-along with Rev Andrew North at the annual Harvest Supper.

See some more photos here.


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Messy Church - Easter 2019

Messy Church - Easter 2019

Messy Church met again on Maundy Thursday at Mulbarton Primary School.

We were exploring the  theme:  Why do bad things happen to people, and how can I help?

We used the Easter Story to do this having another set of very creative crafts:  donkey making; a collage of the tomb and crosses; sowing a seed and making a palm (handshape/leaf) to put in the pot until the seed germinates.  We also had a sensory table with opportunities for children to talk about things that worried or concerned them and Carl Bradley from CB Drama did some work with the children acting out different emotions.

A group of children and some adults then prepared to act out the story with costumes as two readers narrated the story, which Adrian then talked about in relation to the theme, before a song, prayer and lunch together.  It was as always the creativity and hard work of a big team of people, so thank you to all those who took part.

We were able to welcome some new faces as well as welcome back those who have been with us from the beginning.


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Lent Course 2019: The Prophetic Voice of India

Lent Course 2019: The Prophetic Voice of India

This year's Lent Course runs on Wednesday evenings, from 13th March to 10th April.  We meet in the Lounge at Hanover at 7.30pm, and will finish by 9.15pm.

The United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel has produced a free booklet that we'll be using, in we which we listen to and reflect upon the prophetic voice from India. Each evening will consider a different theme.

The five-week study course looks at the radical nature of the gospel, with a special focus on the church in India.

"We might think the prophetic voice belongs to the Old Testament, but we want to show there are still many prophets to be found throughout the world church today.

"The prophets’ voices are challenging because they alert us to issues we might want to ignore - they call us to be like Jesus, who stood on the margins, comforting the oppressed and challenging those who are comfortable."

Study 1: Community – inspiring congregations to be dynamic in mission.
Study 2: Injustice – taking action to combat human trafficking.
Study 3: Gender – a skills training programme is giving women a new lease of life.
Study 4: Climate – schools are inspiring a new generation to care for the environment.
Study 5: Hope – giving hope to India’s marginalised Dalit and tribal peoples.

See more details of the course here



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Emotionally Healthy Discipleship

Emotionally Healthy Discipleship

Love God and love others.  Sounds simple enough.  How hard can it be?  We know it's the way of life that Jesus introduced to the world.  It sounds good.  I've not met a Christian who disagrees with the sentiment.  And yet, in practice, it doesn't always work out the way we imagine.  Just how do we do it?

Do we just make a decision, pray a one-line prayer, and we're good to go?

Or do we actually need to invest time and effort and learn new disciplines in order to cultivate a real life of devotion - of living in the Father's love and knowing Jesus?  And if, like me, you realise that this is something that doesn't just come automatically, how do we do it effectively?

The reality is that many professing Christians remain too long in the shallows of divine love, and rarely experience the depths that God offers.  There are unvisited emotions, locked away under the surface of our lives.  There are unrecognised and ungrieved losses that we've experienced.  There are unresolved issues and unprocessed conditioning from our past that tie us to old unredeemed ways.  There are pressures and expectations, lifestyle patterns and choices, that keep us from the sustaining rhythms and rules of love and devotion.

When we slow down and take the time to face these things and explore them, like many before us, we can find lasting transformation that connects us with the love of God and new ways of living and being.

Peter Scazzero was a leader of a church in New York, which appeared to be flourishing.  He was doing all the things that looked good, and earned admiration from certain sectors of the church - but the reality was that he was too stressed and busy to properly attend to his family, his own soul or his life with God.  After a crunch time came, he took 4 months out of ministry and learnt some really important things about emotional health, which utterly transformed the church, and has since developed into the discipleship course, which we are preparing to look at over Lent next year.

I'm still really enthused about this, but for various reasons, have realised that we need to postpone the course until next year.  In the meantime, I'll be running a course in Autumn 2019 for those who will be leading the course in 2020. If you're interested in helping lead it, please get in touch.  It is the sort of thing that will work much better if there's a group of people who have already deeply engaged with the material and are able to lead by example and inspiration. This is about discipleship that actually changes lives,so it takes investment and preparation.

I'm really looking forward to sharing this journey with others in our group of villages.  Before Lent 2020, anybody can get hold of the books and begin to take the journey right now.

This Lent, instead, we'll run a 5-week course, from 13 March, Wednesday evenings, looking at the prophetic voice from India.


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Puzzling Questions

Puzzling Questions

Conversation evenings on the six highest voted puzzling questions of life:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What is God like?
  3. What happens after I die?
  4. How can I be happy?
  5. Why is there suffering in the world?
  6. What is the spiritual world, and how does it impact my life?

Peter and Cathy Nicholls will be leading conversations at their home in Hethel every Monday night, starting Monday 28 January, spending an evening on each of these 6 puzzling questions.  An opportunity to explore some of life's deeper issues.

All are welcome.


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Flordon Film Club

Flordon Film Club

The Flordon Film Club finished the season with “THE POST”, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. It was a cracking good movie with members leaving on a high – Steven Spielberg’s direction takes some beating doesn’t it? If you haven’t seen this film I highly recommend that you do so.

The new season starts on Wednesday 17 October, followed by the Christmas meeting on Wednesday 19 December. Members are currently making their choices of films and the club newsletter will be circulated shortly detailing them. If you are not a member but would like to be added to the mailing list with a view to coming along you would be most welcome; just send me your full name and email address.

The Film Club meets in the Community Hall at the church on the third Wednesday of the month 5 times per year. Annual membership is £5 per person and admission to each screening costs £5 per seat. We sell good wine cheaply plus chocolate etc. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy a bit of social intercourse before the film!


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The super glue of life

The super glue of life

So, Christmas is a distant memory now, there are signs of spring around us already, and life is zooming by.  We're into the special season of Lent, early this year, and Easter is fast approaching.

This year Ash Wednesday the day Lent begins, fell on Valentine's Day for the first time since 1945 (though it will happen twice more in the next 11 years).  It made an interesting juxtaposition of celebrating romantic love on the one hand and on the other hand beginning to engage with a season of serious reflection and penitence.  And yet it wasn't entirely unfitting.

As many of us gathered at Bracon Ash Church on Ash Wednesday, it was a privilege for me to make the sign of the cross on people's foreheads with ash, as a sign that we were each wanting to accept all that the cross of Jesus has secured for us, and to live our lives more fully and deeply in its light.  The cross reminds us of the depths of the love of God, and so fitting after all for Valentine's Day.  This kind of self-sacrificial love is what motivates us to pursue change in our lives through this penitential season.

On Ash Wednesday , we considered the journey of the Pharisees from Jerusalam to Galilee in search of Jesus.  They had heard about this new teacher and miracle-maker, and wanted to see for themselves.  There was no hint that they were against him at this stage - just really wanting to find out more. They arrived, observed what was happening and had questions, which they put to Jesus.  We too might be approaching Jesus this Lent with questions about what we see around us, about God, the Bible, church.  What those Pharisees didn't anticipate is that Jesus immediately saw right to the heart of the real issues that mattered for them, and he challenged them very strongly about what they were missing, with questions of his own.  It was a surprisingly penetrating and uncomfortable encounter for those unsuspecting Pharisees, who were faced with having to make a decision to change or to resist.  As we truly approach Jesus ourselves, it is possible that we too might discover a need for change.

As you observe this season, by giving something up, taking something on, saying extra prayers, attending one of our mid-week groups, or whatever, I'm praying that you will truly encounter the God who sees, who knows and who helps us to change.  This is a time when we are mindful of the things we all say, think and do that hurt others and hurt God.  It's a time when we may well feel the need to say “I'm sorry.”

In any healthy relationship, those two words are important.  They  are  also  two  words  which  can  cause  healing,  build bridges  and  enable  relationships  to  be  repaired  within communities as well as between individuals.   They are two powerful words which, when truly meant, are never easy to say, but are essential if relationships are to move forward.

As Christians, we also believe that when we speak those two words, God always responds with forgiveness.

“An apology is the super glue of life.  It can repair just about anything.”  Lynn Johnston


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Approaching Jesus... this Lent

Approaching Jesus... this Lent

February is the month that Lent begins.  We are planning plenty to nourish you in spirit through the season of Lent and Holy Week across the benefice.  I do hope and pray that as you tap into some of what is available, that as you approach Jesus for yourself, you will truly encounter Him afresh, in a way that is life-giving and sustaining.  May you find joy in the journey!

Each parish church will have a special service as we progress through Lent: 

  • We begin Lent with our Ash Wednesday Communion Service at Bracon Ash on 14 February. 
  • Then as Lent ends, in Holy Week:
    • on Wednesday, 28 March, Flordon will host a (new for us) Tenebrae Service, otherwise known as  a "Service of Shadows";
    • Mulbarton will host a Maundy Thursday Evening Communion on 29 March;
    • and then on Good Friday, 30 March, the Good Friday Walk through Mulbarton in the morning,
    • and the Good Friday Meditative Service in Hethel in the afternoon. 
    • In addition, there will be extra times of prayer and reflection through Holy Week, and a couple of outings arranged to the cathedral.

In between the Ash Wednesday Service on 14 February and the Tenebrae Service on 28 March, we will follow the Lent readings on Sundays, and mid-week, we will be looking at a series entitled "Approaching Jesus".   

We will learn from the ways Jesus shared the journey with a number of different people.  People, who approached him at different times and places, as recorded in Matthew's gospel. These practical and personal six studies combine honesty with humour in order to take you through the 40 days of Lent.

These six fascinating studies are sure to give us lots of stimulating and enriching food for thought, and lead us closer to our Lord.  The six sessions are:

Session 1:       The Pharisee: A Passion for Purity

Session 2:       A Father: A Persistent Prayer
Session 3:       Peter: A Question of Forgiveness
Session 4:       A Rich Man and a Generous Woman
Session 5:       Judas: A Hidden Agenda
Session 6:       Mary & Martha: A Restoration Project

I'll draw from the first of the six studies at the Ash Wednesday Service, and the remaining five studies will be the focus of small groups through Lent.  You can key into a group on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evenings:

  • Mondays: 19 February, and 5, 12, 19 & 26 March, 7:30 - 9:00 p.m., led by Jill Wright, meeting at 22 Birchfield Gardens
  • Tuesdays: 20 February - 20 March, 7:30-9:30pm, led by Fran Kittle, meeting at Willow Farm, Silfield Road, Wymondham
  • Wednesdays: 7:30 - 9:30 p.m., led by Adrian, Peter & Cathy: 21 Feb - Church View, The Common; 28 Feb - King John's Thorn, Hethel; 7 March - Hethel Hall Cottage, Hall Road, Hethel; 14 March - Church View, The Common, Mulbarton; 21 March - King John's Thorn, Hethel
  • Also on Wednesdays, 7:45-10pm, led by Tom & Becky Taylor, meeting at 69 Orchard Way, Wymondham

A study book will be available for the Lent Course, from any of the group leaders, at a discounted price of £4.50


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Diocesan Lent Appeal

Diocesan Lent Appeal

The Bishop's Lent Appeal 2018 is focused on enabling local mission in Simbai, Papua New Guinea. In this remote community the church building is the hub of village life.

Your gift will:

  • help to develop a larger church building;
  • facilitate new mission initiatives with the young people of this scattered community; and
  • support people, such as giving Lynn and Tony Fry periodic Retreat and Refreshment breaks

For further details and to donate, click here.


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Flordon Film Club in 2018

Flordon Film Club in 2018


I have just been informed by the distributor that Breathe is not released until February 26 which is after our film night! So what I have agreed to do is to swap it round with My cousin Rachael i.e. We will see that film next week and Breathe in April.

This is a bit tedious and I am sorry about it; but I hope that those who wish to see both films won’t mind them being swapped round. Naturally if anyone  who has booked to see Breathe wishes to cancel I would quite understand.

The release information on My cousin Rachel follows, and I think it promises to be a good film – quite a number of members voted for it.


Tickets are now on sale.  Just £5. PLEASE BOOK NOW by emailing me - and pay on the door.

It is that time of the year when membership subscriptions are due, unchanged at £5 per person for the whole year. For prospective members the advantages of membership include: getting advance notice of the list of films available, the opportunity to vote for which films we show, and members names go in the draw on film night for free admission at a future film night. Importantly the club needs this financial support in order to cover any shortfall in box takings, and to contribute to the cost of equipment, and subsidised events such as the Christmas film night. I hope that you will wish to join or renew your membership in which case please pay on the door when you next attend.

Please may I make a plea for someone to join me in running the club. The work none of which is onerous involves:

  • Maintaining the membership list
  • Sending out the newsletter and other email communications
  • Collating numbers for each film night
  • Accounts
  • Contact with distributers and Creative arts East:
    • ordering and returning films, making returns and royalty payments
  • Managing Food and Beverage supplies
  • Setting up and dismantling the equipment on the night
  • Taking money on the door
  • Selling refreshments

Thank you.

I look forward to seeing you on the 21st February and in the meantime I wish you a very happy and healthy New Year.


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We will remember them

We will remember them

Thank you to all those who supported one of our five Remembrance services this week.  In total, over 300 congregated and about £400 was raised towards the Royal British Legion appeal.

23 people attended the moving service in Hanover Gardens on Thursday afternoon, with a short act of remembrance, led by Adrian.  Some people there talked with fondness about their personal memories of the men from Mulbarton who had lost their lives in war.

About 50 gathered outdoors at the war memorial in Bracon Ash at 11am on Armistice Day.  Andrew led a short service, followed by refreshments in Bracon Ash Village Hall.  Thanks are due to the members of the armed forces who were in support, to the quartet who led the singing, and to those who prepared refreshments.  We remembered the fallen from Hethel and Bracon Ash, as well as those who were based at Hethel's 389th Bombing Group.

On that Saturday evening, 165 people gathered at Hethersett Church to hear Mulbarton's community choir, Wherry Brass Band, and Mulbarton Primary School Choir in concert.  Sales from the programmes went to the Royal British legion annual appeal.

On Sunday morning, we held 2-minute silences at 11am, incorporated in acts of worship, in 3 of our churches.

Over 200 gathered in Mulbarton Church, including 92 children, many of whom Adrian had visited during the week in their scout and guide units. Adrian led an age-appropriate exploration around the theme of freedom, considering what we like to do with the freedom we have, and what it has cost people in the past to give us that freedom.  We were delighted to see so many in support.  Guides and scouts groups had made wreaths, poppies and decorated stones in memory of the fallen, which were laid at the font.  About £160 was donated, to be split between the church and the Royal British Legion.

About 30 gathered in Flordon Church, where Andrew led a moving service, sharing the story of Norfolk's first V.C. award, some thoughts on heroes, and how it all relates to Jesus' self-sacrificial love.  £100 was donated to the Royal British Legion.

18 gathered in Hethel, where Peter & Cathy led a meaningful time of worship, around the theme of remembering.  £86 was donated to the Royal British Legion.

All the churches were beautifully decorated by dedicated volunteers.

Once again, thanks to all.


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Christmas for Children

Christmas for Children

Lots of exciting things coming up for children over the festive season...

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

 Christingle, Pre-School, Carols and Fayres


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Free Daily Devotionals

There are copies of the new Quarterly Daily Devotionals from United Christian Broadcasters at the back of each of our Churches – do take one or consider joining their mailing list to receive your own free copy – you can contact them directly on 0845 6040401 or contact me, as your local rep for Christian Broadcasting and Care for the Family, and I’ll pass on your details.


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The Magazine

The Magazine

Do you read The Magazine? I don't mean our benefice Mardle, nor even Mulbarton Parish News (often referred to as 'the magazine'). I mean The Magazine, produced by the Diocese of Norwich. It used to be quite boring: lists of vicars, died or moving; what other parishes have done/will be doing..... But not any longer - it is a good read with helpful articles on a bi-monthly theme. Last autumn's on Mental Health raised lots of issues; Nov/Dec was challenging - on being a Christian at work; and the current one, Jan/Feb is about the Bible and Bible Study. Very appropriate for Lent! 

Copies are normally available at the back of church - in that corner you forget to go to 'cos you are chatting as you go out..... Have a look, pick one up, read it, pass it on.... And if they go too quickly and you can't find one, have a word with Caroline and she can order more each time. After all, we pay for them as part of our Parish Share!

But I really do recommend everyone takes one and dips into it: The Magazine is a really useful and helpful Christian magazine.


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New Eco-Friendly Heating

New Eco-Friendly Heating

Hethel Church has been granted their faculty to install air-source heat pumps to heat the air in church.  Praise the Lord!  And many thanks to Peter's sterling efforts to do some ground-breaking research, and spear-head the project.  Hethel also secured a £4,500 grant from British Airways Carbon Fund towards the project. 

Mulbarton Church has its application in as I write, and we will know the outcome by the middle of February.  All bodies have made their views known now and we have had a chance to respond.  South Norfolk have given planning permission.  The DAC have given a certificate of recommendation.  Public notices have had their time.  We are just waiting for the Chancellor to give the final go-ahead, and for the BA Carbon Fund to decide on whether it will award Mulbarton £4,500 as well.  Please pray that there will be no further spanners in the works, that all the funds will be there for both projects and that the work will be able to proceed without a hitch.


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Mulbarton Mardlers - First Birthday!

Mulbarton Mardlers - First Birthday!

There are usually 35-40 each 4th Tuesday of every month in the Social Club 2:30 – 4:30p.m. On 16 December our Christmas party in the Village Hall brought around 70 together, including friends and families, and a good time was had by all!

If you know anyone who is on their own and may enjoy an afternoon out please take an invite from the back of church, Caroline’s office, or see Sue Mellows. The current invites cover January through to April. Transport is available if needed.

We would always welcome volunteers to drive or to come to chat to visitors during the afternoon.  You do not need to commit to being available every month.  If you are interested in helping in any way just speak to Sue or simply pop in to see us one Tuesday afternoon.

Thanks for the faithful band of bakers who provide us with goodies. Added with those that Angie from the Social club provides, we have a wonderful spread each time!

February’s Mardlers will be on Tuesday 27th.  And looking forward to March, we will be having a small celebration for Easter, also on Tuesday 27th, but 2:30 – 5:00 p.m., when the Social Club will also be running some games of bingo.    


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Swap Shop Report

Swap Shop Report

Our January Swap Shop at Harvest House was the third one we've run, where we invite people to come with up to 3 items and swap them.  There is also free drinks and cake, and a chance to meet others.  Donations in the pot all go to a local charity chosen at random from those nominated by people who come.

On 13 Jan 2018, about 30 people came along, over 50 items were swapped, and £24 was raised for Mulbarton Cubs.  There was a great atmosphere through the afternoon, as visitors had a lot of fun with the swapping - and there were some really high quality items that changed hands.  Thanks to those who baked delicious cakes for it, those who helped serve in the kitchen, and to Sarah for organising.

Do look out for the next one later this year - 28th April!


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Journeying with Joy?

Journeying with Joy?

Having preached through all of our 6 values, I think I’ve been most struck with this one about joy.  We value finding joy in the journey, but the reality is that for many of us joy is often elusive.  What can we learn and how can we experience more joy in our own journeys?

The Bible talks an awful lot about joy, and describes many sources of joy: good news, harmonious families, justice, wisdom, the presence of God, and much else.  There’s also a deeper level in which we seem to be encouraged to carry joy with us even when our circumstances seem against us.

Joy: The Gift

In Romans 15, we see that that real joy is a gift from God. Paul was following Jesus, praying confidently for the church, that Jew and Gentile alike would be filled with joy and peace.  Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus have had some bitter disagreements

and strained relationships over the years.  Paul was at pains to have them accept one another, just as Christ accepted them both.  He was imploring them to follow Jesus’ example.  And Paul knew that the way they would be transformed in their relationships with each other was by this experience of the God of hope, filling them with joy and peace, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  There may be lessons from that today where relationships are strained. God wants joy for us, He is prepared to give it, and it makes a huge difference, not only to us personally and individually, but corporately – it overflows to others.

Joy: The Choice

So joy is a gift from God that we seek after.  And yet the other side of the coin is that joy is also something we choose.  We see both Jesus (e.g. Luke 10) and Paul (e.g. Phil. 4) telling us to choose to rejoice, and especially to rejoice in the Lord and in what He’s done for us.  Sometimes, we can’t help it – the joy just bubbles us, but sometimes it requires an active decision from us.

Joy: Sharing Life

The disciples experienced their biggest joy, described in Luke 10, when they were out sharing life with their communities, according to the strategy Jesus had given them, and because it was appropriate and sensitive to their context, it was working.  And when Paul reflected on joy in 1 Thess. 2:17-19, he recognised that it was the people themselves with whom he had been able to share life that were his joy.

So, receive the gift, make the choice, share life, and I pray that we will all find more and more joy in the journey.


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Stained Glass Workshop

Stained Glass Workshop

Another stained glass workshop has been held at Flordon. This time decorations with the theme of ‘Spring’ were made which could be put in the garden, attached to a cane, or hung in the house. Everyone who took part really enjoyed their day, which included an excellent lunch.

Thanks to all who made it such a success!

Some More Photos Here


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Flordon Book Exchange

Flordon Book Exchange

Flordon book exchange is now up and running and there are lots of fresh books to choose from. I would like to thank everyone who uses the exchange and hope you continue to enjoy the variety of material available. Al and I will get round to giving the phone box a fresh lick of pillar box red paint soon. Many thanks, Pearl.

Mobile: 07785414339


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Easter Values and APCM Vision

Easter Values and APCM Vision

April is the month in which we have to have our annual church meetings.  It is also the month In which Easter often falls - this year it's right in the middle of April.  It always strikes me as something of a juxtaposition.  Remembering the week leading up to Jesus' death and celebrating His resurrection is perhaps the most intensely spiritual and searching of all  our festivals.  The word "crucial" comes from the Latin "crux", meaning "cross", and this week of celebration is truly crucial in every sense.  On the other hand, we have the intensely practical work of attending to the legal aspects of running 4 charities, and ensuring that notices, electoral rolls, and reports are all in order for the annual meetings.

So, I find myself with this balance between spiritual and practical, between meditating on the timeless meaning of Jesus conquering death, and reading up on the latest changes around charity regulations, and making sure we do what we should.  In reality, both these things are important.

We have to keep circling back to the roots of what we believe and what really makes us get out of bed in the morning.  How Jesus has expressed His love to us in the person of Jesus Christ and in the events of Holy Week, is nothing short of astonishing, and it does lie at the heart of all we engage in.  And yet we find ourselves with our own unique context and our own specific calling to pursue.

The APCMs provide an opportunity to review how we are living out God's call upon us and to cast the vision for where God is calling us to next. The annual meetings are much more than a series of talking heads, giving dry reports out of duty to the demands of charity law. They are a time when we can gather the wider church family,  celebrate what God has done in the past year and seek God together for fresh vision and direction in the year ahead.

Our foundations and our values remain constant, and the resurrection celebrations bring us back to these.  But our vision shifts and turns as the Spirit blows in new directions, and our annual meetings give ear to this.

I do hope to see as many folk as possible from the church families gathering through April, to seek both a re-grounding with God and a re-envisioning from Him.


APCM Meetings

Hethel Tuesday 4 April 7.30pm in Bracon Ash Village Hall

Mulbarton Monday 10 April 7.30pm in Harvest House.

Bracon Ash Tuesday 11 April 2.00pm in Bracon Ash Church

Flordon Tuesday 18 April 7.30pm in Flordon Church



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Dear praying friends at Mulbarton Church, greetings in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ! I hope this finds you in good health and spirit! I am pleased to inform you that finally we have been able to hand over the second phase of five houses to earthquake victims.

I am sorry that due to constant rain and unfavourable situations in Nepal, construction work got delayed. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks for your prayer and partnership in helping these suffering people. We are going to start building a similar building in another district soon and will continue to build houses as long as we have funds. In Him, Ram Prasad Shrestha


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Flordon "Hog Roast" 2016

Flordon "Hog Roast" 2016

Flordon’s annual get together – the village barbecue/ Hog Roast – was enjoyed in perfect weather by villagers aged 0 to 90. Excellent food was followed by face painting and games for the children, while the rest of us just enjoyed each other’s company.

Our grateful thanks to Tony and Amanda for their hard work and organisation and to everyone else who provided food or helped in any way to make this a wonderful event.

You can see some photos by clicking here.


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Flordon Flower Festival

Flordon Flower Festival

Flordon Flower Festival attracted a steady stream of visitors during the August Bank Holiday weekend. It featured in Radio Norfolk’s Treasure Quest on Sunday morning – the picture shows Sophie finding the clue.

Delicious teas and Ploughman’s lunches were enjoyed in Helen and Jimmy’s garden next door.

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make it such a successful event.

The magnificent sum of £1385 was raised for church funds.

See some photos of the beauty and goings on here.


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Messy Church 4th Birthday

Messy Church 4th Birthday

What a great 4th birthday we had on Thursday!  A huge well done to everyone for adapting so well to different surroundings and the heat -  and for adjusting to last minute surprises, like no electricity.   The team worked brilliantly together and also created a new way of producing and presenting another set of imaginative crafts on our 'stage' for Adrian to re-tell the story.  Thank you Gill for this great suggestion.  A special thank you to Evie for reading
the story so well.  Everyone was listening intently and we have already had feedback from parents saying how helpful this was.  Thank you for your debut on the piano Andrew.

Theresa was a star in the kitchen once again juggling coffee making when the electricity came back on in the midst of preparing a delicious lunch for us all.  Thank you again everyone for what you have baked and brought.  Ros, special thanks for making our birthday cakes this year.

We were 61 people in total:  29 adults and 32 children.  Several of our regular families were away, but there were still a good number.  It was encouraging to hear from these families how much their children also appreciate the Open the Book team who go into both schools to act out Bible stories.

Thank you everyone for a great day.

Our next Messy Church will be in the October half term on Thursday 27 October.   Between now and then there will be a Harvest Service with a taste of Messy Church, very suitable for families, on Sunday 25 September at 11 am at Hethel Church, followed by lunch at Hill Farm, Hethel (tickets soon available for the lunch).


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Update from Nepal June 2016

Update from Nepal June 2016


Update of 14th bath of Residential Mission Training Course

National Mission Commission of Nepal

Three months Missionary Training was organized from 2nd March to 24th May 2016. There were twelve students, including 2 ladies across the country. Most of the students came from the least evangelized region of Nepal.


During the training, including NMCN staffs and more than 20 pastors, teachers, taught different subjects such as: Walk through the Bible, Bible study method, Biblical foundation of mission, History of Mission, Christian ethics, Preaching, Christian family, Book of Acts, Church management, Church planting, Fivefold ministry, Role of Holy spirit in Mission, Spiritual warfare, Muslim religion, Tent Making, Spiritual Leadership, Holistic Mission, Income generating, Evangelism and Discipleship.


NMCN promotes Cross-cultural and holistic mission. Students were taught how one must get involved in the community transformation to look for an avenue to witness the Christ. It has been strongly emphasized that the church must take the whole Gospel to the whole society. Apart from that, students were taught an Income Generating Training in order for them to do mission without any support from outside.


A Graduation Ceremony


A Graduation Ceremony was held On May 24, 2016 in Jyoti Great Commission Church, Sainbhu Lalitpur. At the ceremony, we had invited our board members, distinguished pastors and leaders as well as pastors and relatives of graduating student to bless the students. Over 50 pastors and leaders were present at the ceremony where 2 students shared their experiences and blessings of their time at the Mission Training Course. The ceremony was presided by Prem Kumar Rai, while Rev. Satay Tamang a Chairman of NMCN gave the message of exhortation to the graduating students.


CEO Ram Prasad Shrestha, during his welcome speech thanked to pastors, leaders and supporters for encouraging the NMCN through valuable presence. During his talk, he mentioned that more than 250 missionaries have been taught so far and 99% of them have gone to the unreached areas to plant a church. More than 300 churches have been planted by the missionaries sent by NMCN through the partnership with the churches and denominations. Of them, some have been sent to India and Bhutan as missionaries. He also specifically thanked to the TEAM Mission for their long standing partnership through providing grants to make this training successfully. We would not have been able to come thus far with manifold blessings if TEAM would have not prayed and supported.


Finally, former chairman Rev Indra Thapa shared a word of encouragements to the graduating students and led the dedication prayer along with other pastors and leaders present at the ceremony. The Ceremony was concluded with the benediction prayer pronounced by the Rev. Indra Thapa.



List of Students




Church name



Ram Krishna Rai

Simara Church



Dhirendra Gurung

A.G. church



Dhan Bahadur Gurung

Masiha Eklesiah church



Bhima Limbu

Good news church



Lalit B.K.

Srijana A.G. church



Stephen Chaudhari

Deukhuri Prathna church



Hom Bdr Adhikari

Appipal church



Dilip Raj Sunar

Nawa Jyoti church



Bijaya Rai

Ashish Mandali



Dilip Kha Chaudhari

Mashiah Eklesiah Church



Binoda Nepali

Immanuel Christian Church



Soroj Sunuwar








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In or Out: The EU referendum

In or Out: The EU referendum

Strong views, big assertions, fear of the unknown.  I don’t know how you’re finding all the talk about our big decision this month.  This is a much more significant vote than a general election.  It will chart a course for the future of our nation, the EU and the wider world and it’s something that will be felt far and wide and for generations to come.

Surely the simple thing is to work out what the Christian way to vote is, and then we can all do that.  Just as within the political parties, however, we find within the church there is a wide range of opinions.  So, if our minds are made up, how can we check that our views are consistent with our Christian convictions?  And if we are unsure how to vote, how can we think Christianly in order to come to a decision?

Andrew Goddard has recently published a Grove booklet, aiming to help us identify the key areas to consider.  From that, here is a checklist of questions for starters:

  • Have we understood something of the history and founding vision of the post-war European project, and the widening and deepening relationships between European countries over the last 66 years?
  • Can we be clear on the difference between the EU and Europe?
  • Can we sum up the political, economic and ethical foundations of the EU?
  • OK, so having a foundation of understanding, are we committed to loving our neighbour and maintaining the best possible relationships with neighbouring nations?
  • In coming to a decision, are we considering the common good rather than individual interests, relinquishing “what’s best for me” – including considering minors who can’t vote but will have to live the longest with the consequences?
  • Likewise, can we relinquish “what’s best for the UK”, instead considering consequences for EU neighbours and the wider world?
  • Finally, and as a springboard to deeper engagement, are we striving to think biblically and theologically, beyond specific policy issues, to broad debates on the nature of the EU and the UK’s relationship to it? Notably, considering the EU’s composition, ethos and structures?

From this last point, Goddard delves into the theology of nations, ungodly empire-building, identity, migration, peace, solidarity, money, consumerism, debt, justice, subsidiarity, democracy and representative leadership, while examining some of the intricacies of how the 7 political institutions that make up the EU operate and seeks to relate theology to practice.

He then shows how a strong Christian case can be made for remaining in the EU, centring around its foundational Christian values, the good that has been achieved, the need to stay in relationship with neighbours, and the potential damage caused by leaving.  He also shows how one could construct a strong Christian case for leaving, arguing from the current failings and recent damage caused by putting economic issues too high on the agenda, failed reforms, the lack of spiritual vitality or acknowledgement of Europe’s Christian heritage, the inability to adequately represent the people of the EU, and the democracy-deficit.

Goddard finishes by encouraging us to disagree well as we debate these issues, keeping in mind to be honest, open and attentive, resisting caricaturing opponents or parroting standard arguments.  He encourages us to see this vote in the context of God’s coming kingdom and God’s plan to gather people from all nations to Himself and His service, and urges us to work hard at developing principled views, which we can defend biblically and theologically.

Some food for thought…?

You can read more from Goddard here

Come along on Sat 18th to think together some more

Also check out some pointers the diocese has gathered together:


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Follow-On Flowers

Follow-On Flowers

Following the success of the flower arrangement day at Christmas, another one was held on Saturday 23rd April which was enjoyed by those who attended. As can be seen from the photos, two styles of basket arrangements were made. At the request of those attending, another day will be arranged in the summer if there is sufficient interest.

Here are the results of our efforts:

Flower basketFlower Basket - type 1Flower basket - type 1Flower basket - type 2


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From The Rectory

From The Rectory





Third Easter in the Rectory Household

We moved house just over 2 years ago, and began work here on 6th Feb 2014, so now Year 3 begins.  Time has flown, and yet lots has changed, with more change coming in 2016, as we welcome a stipendiary curate into the mix, and get used to cats in the Rectory.  Staff changes, financial and building challenges, some personal health issues, and lots of learning has characterised our time here so far.  We've been involved in some really good things along the way, and made some good friends, and we’re looking forward to more of that as things progress. I’m sometimes painfully aware of what I’m not doing, and particularly lament that I’m not able to visit as widely as Jess and others did, under different circumstances. Nevertheless, I’m working hard to be as effective as possible with my time, and to develop a pastoral visiting team to ensure we continue the treasured legacy of home visiting in this benefice – please be in touch if you’d appreciate a visit.

It seems like there are a lot of things hanging in the air at the moment - unresolved issues, from the personal to the global.  The increase in Islamic militancy. Our government cutting support for green energy and associated businesses, and introducing Ofsted inspections for Sunday Schools. More debt taken out than ever before over the Christmas shopping season. These are just some of the things that leave me wondering where it’s all heading, as well as issues closer to home. Nevertheless, I'm reminded of the old Bill Gaither hymn: "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow".  I don't know what the future holds but I know who holds the future, and therein is our solid ground. What’s true of God is true for good.

As we approach our third Easter here, the message behind arguably the most important of all the Christian festivals is so apt. Whatever is happening in the world, and whatever is going on in our personal lives, there is a God who has beaten death, and who ultimately will bring good, harmony, peace and restoration to all things. It doesn’t depend on us to make it happen. It’s certain, because it depends on what God has done in history through the person of Jesus Christ.

Wishing you true hope and security in a changing world,




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Amazing Table Decorations

Amazing Table Decorations

At Flordon on December 12th, seven people enjoyed making Christmas table decorations and door wreaths at a workshop led by Pam, Janice and Cynthia. Other flower arranging workshops may be held during the year if enough people are interested.

Christmas Wreath Making

Christmas Wreaths Made


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Update from Nepal

A roof piercing slogan was chanted again and again by the pastors and leaders gathered in Damak when a Mission Conference for Pastors and leaders was held in Eastern Nepal. The slogan was the declaration of their renewed commitment of being a missionary people as a Nepali Christian. A three days Mission Conference was held in Hope Church in Damak in partnership with the Regional wing of the National Churches Fellowship of Nepal. Despite the strike and road blockade, more than 180 enthusiaistic pastors and leaders attended representing different denominations and a group of eastern Nepal Pastors from the plains and mountain were gathered where they joyfully shared their fellowship, learning together and while eating and chatting over the break.

It was surprising to see how the team of kitchen served food by cooking with firewood in open air despite the shortage of cooking gas due to unofficial blockade imposed by the Indian Government.

We did experience breakthrough in the lives of the participants when Rev. Tom Keppeler of Elmbrook church ministered with the word focusing on what is missing and why the church must get involved in mission. The pastors and leaders have been cast the vision in fulfilling the Great Commission. Similarly Dr. Matt Gibson from the Emlbrook church ministered to participants about the importance of prayer lives and spirituality for missional leaders. We would like to thank the Elmbrook Church and Life North Church, USA for their financial partnership to make this event happen successfully.

During our review meeting after the conference, the organizing team of the leaders expressed saying that the conference has hugely impacted on their lives and they have been enormously blessed. They also requested that such kind of mission Conference must be held for youth as well.

"We would like to thank the Lord for enabling National Mission Commission of Nepal to continuously create the movements of World Mission by equipping and teaching to the churches. We thank once again to Elmbrook Church and New Life Centre in USA for their partnership. In Him."  - Ram Prasad Shrestha


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Update from Nepal

Update from Nepal


Over 120 days of ruthless and harsh unofficial blockade imposed by the Indian Government supporting one of the ethnic groups called Madhesi has over shadowed the cry and pains of the victims of the earthquake. Moreover, the pain and suffering have even increased due to the blockade by the severe shortage of humanitarian and daily essential items in Nepal. Due to such inhuman acts, the country of Nepal is almost in the verge of becoming failure status.

When the most devastating earthquake hit Nepal, Kanchhi Maya's house was not spared, her house was also destroyed but thank God no one got killed. She and her father in-law lived the tent for several days in Thakle Kavre, which is one of most destroyed district. This was quite challenging time for her because there was no one to help her.

Kanchhi Maya had lost her husband 14 years back due to the HIV. Kanchhi Maya who got HIV transmitted by her husband. Now she lives with HIV under the humiliation and desolation in the society, her days are numbered due to the lack of medication because she does not have proper job for the medication. The money that she earns by doing tedious job is not sufficient to cover the medication. HIV related social organization does not have enough resource to cover her medication however; the organization had helped her previously. She has got two children who are looked after by Koinonia Grace Home and they are studying well in Kathmandu.

Kanchhi Maya and her father in-law were homeless and did not have shelter to put their heads or to go anywhere as HIV affected person. The freezing winter is already at her door post which put their lives in risk. The National Mission Commission of Nepal has helped her to build the house where she and her Father in-law reside now warmly and happily. She has expressed her deep and sincere thanks to NMCN for meeting her need by building the house for them. I would like to take this opportunity express our heartfelt thanks to generous donor like you who has prayed and responded the needs to reconstruct the broken world and soul. WE are ever thankful to God for enabling us to touch the lives through in the name of Christ and share the good news in order to change the life to toward joy and happiness. Once again thank you for your generosity and fervent prayer support.

In Him, Ram Prasad Shrestha and NMCN Family. 




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Women and the Kingdom

Women and the Kingdom

As we go into White Ribbon Fortnight, marked by over 50 countries, aiming to increase awareness about violence against women, and as Norfolk plays its part with the "Norfolk Says No" campaign, Adrian talked about how we as church can contribute to tackling the root beliefs about gender. Adopting the right beliefs can lead to lots of good fruit, but adopting wrong beliefs, as the church sometimes has, leads to abusive and destructive behaviours.

To read more about this important topic, Adrian's top recommended read is "Women and the Kingdom" by Roger and Faith Forster.

Listen to the talk and view the powerpoint here (talk starts at Slide 4, after preamble!)...



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Letton Hall 2015

Letton Hall 2015

So many positive comments coming through about Letton this year.  Thanks to all who made it such a special time.

Just beginning to upload talks and powerpoints now, so folk can catch up if they want.

Here's some inspiration from Jonah, which was our Friday evening talk:

Adrian's notes on the Jonah slideshow


And on Saturday morning, a look at Ezekiel and a glance at Matthew - considering the scroll Ezekiel ate, compared to the feast of the king that awaits at the consummation of all things:

Adrian's notes on the Ezekiel slideshow


On Saturday afternoon, Steve Benton, visiting from Reading, led us on a journey of reconnecting with the hopes and dreams God has given. The children also blessed us with sharing God's promises for us:


On Sunday morning, we summarised all we had been considering over the weekend, and heard from a dozen people about their experience, which highlighted what a blessed time it had been. We also heard from the children and youth before breaking bread together. The recording captures Adrian's summary, and a couple of contributions from Jack and Liz:



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Update from Nepal October 2015


Update from National Mission Commission of Nepal

October, 2015

Relief Work:

There are still many people who are suffering without proper shelter due to deadliest earthquake hit on 25 April and 12 May this year. Somehow, people have survived the rainy season despite suffering with flood and landslides. Whatever shelter families are living in now, they are not enough to fight the winter. The tough winter is approaching from the month of November. The winter is quite severe which may claim many lives of old and children because of poor shelter and lack of warm clothing.

The government of Nepal does seem helpful to continue the relief work. Now they have imposed new rules and regulations for the relief work. No agencies are allowed to go to the communities to do the relief work unless the budget, activities, proposals are approved by the government and local officials. This is an unnecessary hassle that the government has imposed upon the organization that have involved in relief work.

Our relief work has been stopped now because of the new policy which has been imposed upon us. However, we have been distributing the foods that we had purchased earlier and corrugated sheets in small quantity. We are working on submitting the fresh proposal to the government and we hope by December or January, we can start building the shelter and houses.

Nepal in Crisis:

It seems like a curse over the people of Nepal. After the catastrophic earthquake, pouring rain and landslides, the people of Nepal are now suffering unjustly due to unexpected blockade from India, after the promulgation of the new constitution. The political party based in southern Nepal called Madhesi has been constantly protesting and calling the general strikes and blockage which has stopped all the vehicles from coming to Nepal. India seems indirectly imposed sanction supporting this party. Since Nepal is depended upon the Indian supplies of petrol, gas, foods, medicines, raw materials for factories and all the business, now things are coming no longer, which has made life very hard. There are already foods daily household things are shortage in the market. People are finding hard to travel from once place to another. It's likely to prolong the blockade which will put life in serious danger. People are dying without medicines and oxygen in the hospital.

Churches are also being threatened by the Hindu extremist. Recently, 3 churches were bombed in the eastern part of Nepal. Nepal used to be a Hindu country but now the new constitution has declared as a secular country which as upset the Hindu political parties. They have ordered that all the missionaries must leave the country or face the consequences. There are riots and demonstrating taking place in a different part of the country, the church could be attacked any time. There are no proper justice and strong security in Nepal.

Due to lack of petrol and cooking gas, we have cancelled 2 upcoming events which were Missionary Retreat and Income Generating training. There are other Christian organizations who also have cancelled their meeting/training as well.

Please pray that country would be politically stable so that people can live and travel without any fear.

Please pray that the government would be helpful and caring toward the relief efforts.

Please pray for the protection of the churches and church leaders.

Ram Prasad Shrestha




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Church Finances

We have produced a consistent representation of the finances for each of the four parishes, which should help us talk together about how we cope with increasing demands, and help church members to understand a bit more clearly what's going on financially. We'll be meeting with representatives from the diocese at 9:30am on Sat 7th November to put in our plea for some assistance to meet the 15% increase to parish share for 2016. If you'd like sight of the user-friendly financial summaries for any of the parishes, please do be in touch with Adrian or Caroline in the church office.


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Building Team!

In our group of churches, we've been working hard on thinking about what it means to be team and how the Lord is calling us to develop team. There's something in the very identity of God that tells us team matters. God is a triune team - three distinct persons in one. Diversity in unity. Just like the universe God has made, where time and space and matter, seemingly distinct and diverse, yet all related, all connected, and all functioning as one entity. And so it is with us, the people of God. Diversity in unity.

Teams have always been God's way. Moses had his 70 elders; David had his mighty men; Gideon had his army of 300; Nehemiah had his brick-layers; the prophets had their own "schools"; Israel began with a band of 12 brothers; Jesus had the Twelve, as well as a wider team of disciples. When Paul planted churches, he appointed elders to act as shepherds and overseers to the people of God. The local church always had leadership from teams, and everyone in the church had a valued role to play to contribute to the outworking of God's purposes - bringing good to the people God had made in the world God loves.

Wherever churches today have been able to follow the leading of God's Spirit in working these team principles out, church has been better for it. We have just launched a new leadership team in Mulbarton Church, in which 8 people will be taking on the co-ordination and leadership of different areas of ministry. We have also been working at getting the right structures for improving teamwork across the benefice, and making positive steady progress there.

It is such a privilege to be able to join in with what God is doing, and my prayer is that we each discover the fulness of what it is that God is calling us each into, as we work together to become a fruitful team, that glorifies God and earns the respect of our communities.


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Update from Nepal

Update from Nepal


Update from National Mission Commission of Nepal

Ram Prasad Shrestha, September2015

Shelters for the Homeless

The Gorkha District is still a most shattered district due to the earthquake, but still the Dalit people of this the district is overlooked in the distribution of relief materials. The National Mission Commission of Nepal has been able to do an assessment based on needs through the missionaries and networks working in the devastating areas.

Our missionaries with Resham Pariyar, vice chairman of NMCN, along with local leaders distributed corrugated sheets in Amppipal Gorkha. The distributed corrugated sheets have been used to build seltars to stay safely under in the rain and in winter.

We have distributed Zinc sheets to about 60, most of them have built shelters and wish to say they are thankful to partners like you who have prayed and sent generous funds to build the shelters for the victims of the earthquake.


Missionary Purna Builds the Shelters:

Another missionary through whom we distributed the zinc sheets has also been able to build a few houses in Ramechhap Districts. Besides distributing the food and house materials, we could also distribute zinc sheets and tents for them. Due to our involvement the church has been recognized by the society and by the government. The society who used to be hostile to the Christians has become a friend and a good neighbor. Now Purna has been able to establish a good relationship with the government officials. He has been appointed as relief coordinator in this region because he has shown his integrity and accountability in the society where there are other community leaders who have been found corrupt in terms of delivering relief materials to everyone regardless of caste and creed.


Orphans without Food and Shelter:

Krishna and his two brothers aged between 1014 are orphans without food and shelter. However, they have a Grandmother who is 70 years old, but they do not know her whereabouts. Sometimes she shows up but then disappears. She is surviving with the food that is given by the villagers. Krishna and his brothers Shantosh and Pradeep live in their relative’s house working for them. Unfortunately, they dropped out of school after their parents’ deaths.

Krishna’s father went to India to earn a living for his family. Due to his sickness he had to

Return home after a few years. He was not able to bring much money, only his things, but what he also brought was a killer and deadly sickness called HIV. Without knowing, the HIV was transferred to his wife who died of HIV. When Krishna’s mother died of HIV, people were not aware that her death was due to HIV, so she was cremated with dignity. His father kept drinking wine and smoking while taking care of the children. However, after two years his father died of HIV. When he died, nobody would touch his body in the village because most of people knew about his sickness. After his death, nobody came to his house to get the body to be cremated, so the body was left at home decaying. After a few days, the worms started eating his Body. When the smell was unbearable, the villagers came to the house and cremated the body beside his house itself. Now the boys are left without parents’ care and concern.

Now Krishna says, if my house is rebuilt, I and my brothers and grandma can live together and make our living by working in the village or elsewhere. He further says my grandma has the skill of stitching cloth; she can make her living and we can be together as a family. By realizing such a pathetic and heartbreaking circumstance, the National Mission Commission of Nepal has helped to build a house (picture above). Now boys along with their grandma live together in their home comfortably and their lives with dignity and pride.

We are ever grateful for your continued prayer and sacrificial giving for the sake of the Love of Christ and his people.

In Him,

Ram Prasad Shrestha



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Harvest Festival Weekend

Harvest Festival Weekend
Saturday October 3rd saw over 50 people from Bracon Ash and Hethel enjoying a delicious Harvest Supper which was held  in the village hall.  The entertainment included a wonderful quiz produced by Alice Lince using photographs of local landmarks.  This was followed by Peter Bailey playing his ukulele and singing some old favourites.  A harvest of talents.
Sunday morning breakfast was served in the church.  Tea, toast, croissants and fruit. Cups of hot tea and coffee warmed up the congregation ready for' Messy Harvest' which was greatly enjoyed by a record number of adults and children.  The harvest gifts  went to support Food Bank.
Adrian's sermon was based on 'The Harvest of Talents'
Look out for the Crib Service 4.00pm Christmas Eve.  It promises to have a lot of crackers!

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Flordon Craft Club - Felt Demonstration

Flordon Craft Club - Felt Demonstration

Much fun was had at Flordon Church, when a special felt making demonstration was arranged.  People joined in heartily, and had a fabulous time.  Karen took these photos to record the moment.


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Link to Hope (formerly ‘Link Romania’)

Link to Hope (formerly ‘Link Romania’)

An objective which aims to provide essentials and small recreational items to some countries in Eastern Europe where poverty and need have reached critical levels.

e.g. - Ukraine, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania.

Felicity McIlwrath is launching her annual campaign within our Benefice to contribute shoe boxes filled by volunteers with items suggested on the Appeal form. Shoe Boxes can be either ‘Family’ or ‘Elderly Person’ specific – see example shown.

Felicity has a supply of forms for those interested.

Once completed, please bring boxes to Felicity’s home address -The Gables, The Common, Mulbarton, Norwich, NR14 8JQ


28th October 2015


They will then be taken to a Norwich collecting centre, eventually being added to the overall UK shipment, made from Link to Hope’s warehouse in Worthing, Sussex.

Link to Hope’s website is at

Email address -

Forms and further details available for download by clicking here.

For further information and help locally please contact Felicity on 01508 571254.


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Summer Reflections from the Rectory

Summer Reflections from the Rectory

We made our annual pilgrimage to East Sussex for Revive camp at the start of August and once again it proved to be a great blessing - refreshing, motivating, stimulating and spacious. I hope others have had similar space for recharge and refocus this summer. As well as much needed time to stop, enjoy the lakes and woodland, and declutter my mind, there was useful input on a range of topics, to give food for thought. I spent time considering:

  • children's work and parenting
  • the threat and challenge of Islamic jihadists
  • the role of spiritual gifts
  • the difference between relational and calvinistic theology, and why the former is preferable
  • the need to be serious about evangelism
  • the challenges of being part of the state church, and the role of the new churches in our nation
  • some ways of handling the problem of violence in the Old Testament
  • the wells from which I do/should draw to sustain me in life and ministry
  • what it might mean to truly embrace our Jewish roots in today's church

All good stuff, and all moving me a bit further along in my own Christian journey. I also managed to chat with Steve Benton, who leads the children's work at Revive. I'm very excited that he will be joining us at Letton Hall to lead our children's work there and inspire us in what we're doing and where we're going with our own children's ministry.

Through the summer in our churches, we've been considering a broad sweep of the whole of Jesus' life. It is apparent that building a team was key to what Jesus was about. This term, I'll be aiming to make progress in team building. Our profile will also arrive in theological colleges, with the hope of attracting a curate to join us end of June 2016. Food for your prayers. 


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I’ve been reading Tom Wright’s latest book ‘Simply Good News’ (SPCK 2015 – I think £9.99). Tom Wright was Bishop of Durham before becoming a Professor at St Andrew’s University. He’s written loads of books – all worth reading. This one is subtitled ‘Why the Gospel is NEWS and what makes it good’. The point he really wants to drive home is that Christianity is NOT a philosophy, it is NOT advice on how to live better, it is primarily NEWS – about facts (Jesus’ life, death and – especially - his resurrection) as a result of which the world is no longer the same. As with most news there is the back story (the people of God in the Old Testament and their expectation of a Messiah) and there is the need for a response (believe it or not). And he spends several chapters correcting misconceptions about our faith which made me think again about how I talk about the gospel. Well worth reading – and thinking about.


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3rd Birthday for Messy Church

3rd Birthday for Messy Church

Messy Church is 3! and 64 of us celebrated our birthday on 20 August
with a fabulous birthday cake. But cake wasn't all we feasted on.
Our theme was "helping" - how do we live like Jesus in the world
by being helpful - and we explored how a young boy helped
Jesus feed 5,000 people at a big picnic. Now that was a feast!
Come and join us at our next Messy Church in half term
on Thursday 29 October.


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Update from Nepal

Nepal Updates: Building Houses for the Earthquake Victims, July, 2015

Dhading is one of the hardest hit districts by the earthquake. Ninety percent of houses have been affected, either they are destroyed completely or cracked which are quite dan-gerous to live in. Most of the people are forced to live in the plastic tents. The plastic tents are not durable, after few weeks of rain and heat, the tents starts tearing down with lots of holes in it. Now the rainy season has begun, people must find a strong shelter to live with their family. One of the families in Gorkha shared scary story. They said, 'we find snakes and scorpions crawling under our plastic bed which are much dangerous to us. Kids hard-ly sleep at night due fear of snakes and wild harmful insects. Moreover, the mountain where they live are cracked due to the earthquake which is prone to trigger landslides
because of out pouring of the rain.
Witnessing such a pressing and desperate need for strong housing, we, through the help by the generous partners and supporters, have built 21 houses partnering with LTD/NCFN. We have financed to put the roof of every house which is coloured and high quality zinc sheets.
The blue almost a dozen houses you could see on the mountains are in one area that we built houses for the earthquake victims who are now homeless. We held a handing over ceremony inviting government officials and local representatives. This handing over cere-mony has given us an opportunity to witness Christ. Now the perspective of Christian by the Hindu has been changed from the religious an invader to integral part of the society, who cares for the people in the time of needs and struggle. A handed over the house where a small family would live comfortably. The total cost of the house is USD 1,000.00. It is a semi permanent house where families can live over 10/15 years.
The Distribution of Zinc Sheets
The National Mission Commission of Nepal has distributed 54 bundles of zinc sheets to 54 households in Pida Village Development Community. Two missionaries Ram Chandra and Yakub are tirelessly working to serve the people in their communities. The household who has received the zinc sheets will build the shelter by themselves. We will send the
updates when they finish it. We thank God that the District officer of Dhading district has given official permission to build houses and supply food materials to the earthquake vic-tims.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to all for giving sacrificially and praying
unceasingly to serve the people in Nepal in the times of crisis and natural disaster.
In Him,
Ram Prasad Shrestha


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Latest from Nepal

Latest from Nepal


I would like to extend my sincere thanks to you for praying with us in the time of suffering and calamity in Nepal. I would also like to thank you also for responding  prayers  by giving sacrificially to help the needy people of Nepal.

I am enclosing the relief update herewith this email. The rainy season has started, now our next phase will be to build the temporary houses so that they will be safe in rainy season. We are going to give zinc sheet which they will put roof on the house. They will use their local materials to build the temporary house. Once rainy season is over then they will build the permanent house by using the zinc sheets as roof.

We have received official approval to distribute the zinc sheet and build the houses from two different districts, which are Dhading and Ramechhap. We are still waiting to receive from Gorkha as well. The official permission would grant us work with local government and the use of foreign funds.

Our latest report on the relief distribution effort in Darbanga of Gorkha is available here.


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SUMMER UPDATE - Developing Crisis Intervention

SUMMER UPDATE  - Developing Crisis Intervention

Last year we stated our intent to be in a strong position to respond in crisis situations. This intention is our aim, and as we grow in support, we are enabled to step closer and closer to this vision becoming a reality. Nepal is the most recent step. Brad Moore (Charity MD) went directly after the first earthquake to assess the situation and figure out the best way we could help. In many cases, charities give what they think people need. People are grateful for absolutely any help, but for us to be true to our core values - we wanted to find a response that was both culturally relevant and somehow sustainable.

The outcome? Corrugated metal sheets - these provide shelter for families who lost EVERYTHING during the quakes. Tarpaulin is OK as temporary relief but will not withstand the monsoons. Brad worked with the locals to come up with this solution providing families with temporary, immediate shelter in the short term and a roof, ready for when their homes can be rebuilt.

Brad managed to identify one young girl, Anita, who lost her support structure during the earthquake. We are committed to looking after Anita but feel even more committed to making this emergency response a priority. The public have been so generous and through our simple appeal to help the people of Nepal we have raised over £7,000.

In the Autumn, once the rain has stopped, we plan to take a team of people to distribute winter clothing and offer manual support to help families affected by this earthquake. If you would like to join us please e-mail globalexpeditions@                               Becky Taylor from Operation Orphan News



Summer is here and the picnic season is upon us but have you got a blanket? We have a number of green and blue tartan waterproof-backed blankets and white fleece blankets which have been used once at the wedding. If anyone would like to have a blanket we are just asking for a donation which will be sent to Operation Orphan. Any blankets left at the end of the summer will be donated to Operation Orphan for distribution to those in need. Give us a ring (570746) or just call in at 18 Primrose Close, Mulbarton. Becky Taylor


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Harvest House Refresh

Harvest House Refresh

As you may all be aware, we have recently had the roof work completed, so hopefully later this year we will not be contributing too much to global warming! The next stage is that we want to start working through the various rooms with a lick (or more!) of paint, together with any other reasonable refurbishment that is required (e.g. replacement flooring).

So there are a few things that are needed before we can start:

Does anyone have a plasterer contact that we could ask to look at the ceilings in the Bouncers and Prayer Rooms? The roofing work has high lighted the need for these to be looked at before we can start any decorat ing. If so please let me know.

To work up a schedule of work, we need to know who would be able to help in any decorating, and when (thinking of the period over the summer - August and September and possibly into October). Again please let me know.

Once all this information is available, we will be back in touch, with a timetable and the necessary materials for work to commence! Many thanks in anticipation of your support!


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Reaching The Homeless in Norwich

Reaching The Homeless in Norwich

At 8.00 pm every Thursday evening the homeless people of Norwich gather in the Haymarket where the Salvation Army and other charities meet to serve them with hot food, and provide them with clothes, blankets, and other essentials for living. Tom and I recently visited them with some clothes and I met a young girl, I’ll call her Hannah, who was pregnant and homeless. It was a cool evening and as I pulled my coat around myself over a top and a jumper, she stood in her T-shirt and jeans which was all she owned, the clothes she would still be wearing in the morning. It was difficult to talk to her, she seemed silenced by something or someone. When I pulled out a coat from the bag I had brought Hannah’s face lit up and as she tried it on she was obviously delighted. On prompting from her boyfriend she quietly said, “Thank you” and I gave her a hug.

The ‘whys and wherefores’ of the circumstances that have brought people to this place can be debated at great length but talking about it will not put food in their mouths or clothes on their backs today - tonight. If you have clothes, blankets or toiletries which you can spare we would be happy to deliver them to the Haymarket or better still take them yourselves and share your time with those who need to know that someone cares. As it says on this young man’s notice, ’Homeless, hungry, sick & tired, anything helps I have no-one. From my heart - Thank you’.


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The Piano

The Piano

Wishing to encourage her young son's progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked "NO ADMITTANCE.

When the houselights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing. Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy's ear, "Don't quit. Keep playing."

Then leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. And the audience was mesmerized.

Whatever our situation in life - however outrageous, however desperate, whatever dry spell of the spirit, whatever dark night of the soul-- God is whispering deep within our beings, "Don't quit. Keep playing. You are not alone, together we will transform the broken patterns into a masterwork of my creative art. Together, we will mesmerize the world with our song“


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Politically Provocative Easter

Politically Provocative Easter

The resurrection is massively political; there can be no greater political statement than the Christian belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God; though somehow it’s become like an afterthought, just a happy ending tacked on to make the story better – even something embarrassing to sidestep.

We talk confidently and politically about Jesus’ life and ministry, his words about love, peace, justice, money, even about kingdoms; we can talk of his death, his sacrifice. But his resurrection provokes accusations of insanity, of one step too far; bringing personal irrationally-held beliefs into the public sphere.

So it becomes a metaphor. His death becomes just solidarity with suffering; the resurrection just a symbol of hope – triumph over adversity. Which isn’t wrong. But it’s like saying winning the Champions League was a good chance to make the stadium grass look nice. It may be true, but it’s not the point.

David Cameron recently presumed to define the heart of the Christian message in a Christian magazine, telling us that our Easter faith is about “change, responsibility, and doing the right thing”. Isabel Hardman in the Spectator responded by pointing out that Christians have generally seen the heart of their message as being about God visiting, living, dying and rising in the person of Jesus Christ, from which everything else flows - which is way more edgy.

Archbishop Justin Welby recently warned vicars against preaching “moral claptrap” messages about being “a bit nicer”.   Moral living is good – but there’s more.   The resurrection, as Christians understand it, says something about a real transcendent God being interested and calling us to be connected to God and God’s world; about the possibility of transformation; about the fact that darkness cannot win; and about the way in which the “little people” are honoured, the first witnesses to the resurrection being women, working men, nobodies.

Placed at the centre of God’s plan to shake up the powerful are the very people the powerful would ignore. Christian politics also places them at the centre, so it cannot be a politics of dominance, but one that embraces prostitutes, adulterers, tax-evaders, wealthy land-owners, poor zero-hours workers and Syrian refugees; and sees the same darkness in all of us, no matter our status; and promises the same resurrection to all of us, no matter our status.

The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is an historical truth, not a metaphor; it is a deeply political event, not just a happy ending; it is about God transforming this world, not us escaping from it; if we truly understand it, we cannot help but be changed by it.

Thanks to Kevin for permission to use material from his blog


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Do you want a good love story?

Do you want a good love story?

How about reading the story of Ruth in the Old Testament of the Bible?  It's the story we explored this week at Messy Church as we thought about the theme of "kindness" and how we can live like Jesus in the world by being kind to one another. 

In the story there is loving-kindness all around: the loving-kindness Naomi showed Ruth as her daughter-in- law; the loving-kindness Ruth has for Naomi, when Naomi as an old woman wants to return to her homeland.  Ruth, committed to helping Naomi says the amazing words:

"Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. "

Would we have said those words I wonder?  Then there is Boaz who shows loving-kindness to Ruth when she is gleaning grain to feed herself and Naomi.  Boaz and Ruth fall in love and get married and give birth to Obed, who became the grandfather of King David and the ancestor of Jesus.    God's loving-kindness shining through the whole story!

So what did we do this week to explore Ruth's story?  Well, we had 4 brilliant craft tables:

Ellie's table made 'Pencil top friends' and thought about how we can be loyal and kind in our friendships.

On Sarah and Charlie's table there was a bead hanger prayer craft, where they were thinking about how kindness makes a difference.

Janice and Janet's table made a model of Ruth.  They were thinking about how Ruth was a kind person who loved Naomi very much.

Jill and Lisa's table made pasta harvest pictures and thought about how God is someone we can rely on and how God gives us the food we need.

We had a Big Draw messy collage too of Ruth and Naomi and a puppet theatre with some hand puppets near the quiet zone for those wanting some quiet space.

Adrian told the story of Ruth beautifully, using two huge hand puppets for Ruth and Naomi (with Naomi nursing baby Obed) and Sarah joined in with Boaz.  We were all enthralled and you could have heard a pin drop during the story!

Sarah taught us the action song "Our God is a great big God" and after our prayers we were all ready for lunch.  Turning round from our story time seats we saw tables of food beautifully prepared for us by Theresa and Sally.

We were 54 people in total, of which 30 of us were adults and there were 24 children.  As well as regular faces and those who we see several times over the course of a year, there were also two new families today.  Wonderful to see everyone!  Thank you to everyone who baked, brought food, made a donation!

Our next Messy Church-style gathering will be the Christingle Service at Hethel Church on Sunday 7 December at 4 pm - very family friendly - do come along and join in!   Our next Messy Church will be in the spring half term on Thursday 19 February 2015.

Cathy Nicholls on behalf of the Messy Church Team


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Letton Hall 2014

Letton Hall 2014

Back now from our first Letton Hall church weekend away - what a fabulous experience!  A chance to eat together, laugh together, work together, worship together, learn together, pray together and talk together.  What a valuable time!

We were privileged to have some special guests - and I don't just mean the world-famous Moretti family circus!  Kim and Penelope Swithinbank travelled from Wiltshire to be with us for the weekend.  They shared some pertinent insights from the lives of different New Testament characters.  It was also interesting for the church family to meet some people who have been significant for Sarah and I in our own Christian lives and ministry development.

The weather was with us for the go-karting tradition, and 18 people braved the track.  When it came to the competitive racing, with 2 teams of 9 people, it all came down to the last race, 6 points a piece, with Danny racing Ian to decide the winner.  Experience triumphed as Danny's clutch faltered and Ian made no mistakes.

The evening entertainment was a lot of fun, with many reporting that they hadn't laughed so much in a long time.  Tom performed his usual culinary marvels, keeping us all well fed for the weekend.  Tony brought us up to speed on the financial situation, after which I encouraged us all to keep in prayer and keep believing through the current challenges.

In total, 95 people attended, with comings and goings, and it was over all too quickly - but there are certainly things to take forward from the weekend, so in a sense it's not over yet.

Recordings of the teaching sessions are available on our website, to stream or to download.

 Sarah kicked off proceedings by introducing Kim and Penelope and then Kim said a bit more about the journey they've been on and what they are doing now in retirement from ministry:

 Penelope led the first session, and considered Peter's experience in the boat in the midst of a storm, when Jesus appeared walking on water and invited the disciples to join him.  Peter was the only one who responded positively and got out of the boat, after which he realised the impossibility of what he was doing and began to sink, needing Jesus to rescue him.  Penelope posed 3 stages to this experience:

  1. Peter was crying out: "Get me out of here!"  The storm was unexpected and not pleasant.  Penelope spoke movingly about the loss of her own mother in a tragic car accident and how storms can take us by surprise.  She encouraged us to think about the unexpected storms that we have faced in our lives and as a church.
  2. The disciples were invited to get out of the boat!  The response for most of them, understandably, was "You cannot be serious!"  Stepping into stormy waves - giving up the security of the boat seemed crazy.  Penelope encourgaed us to trust in Jesus and be real about facing up to when we are not actually trusting Jesus, but rather the boat, the company of others, etc.  Many things can subtly take the place that Jesus wants to occupy in our lives - if we can begin to identify what we are really trusting in, we can begin to re-focus our trust in God.
  3. Peter stepped out and realised he had done something crazy.  "What have I done?!"  Penelope encouraged us to think about where we have felt overwhelmed because we've stepped out in faith and attempted something so big for God that it is bound to fail unless God be in it.

In the second session, Kim spoke on the familiar parable of the lost son, and challenged us to reflect on whether we identified more with the rebellious prodigal or the religious prodigal. There were some really relevant insights on the older brother, whom Kim called the "religious prodigal", and a challenge to stop circling the wagons to keep the world out, but embrace the call to seek and to save the lost.

In the third session, Penelope reflected on the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, and how she had been willing to say yes to God no matter the cost.  Full and free surrender to God, even at personal cost, is the only way to fulfil the call of God and unlock the kingdom of God in our midst.  Penelope challenged us to think about how to be willing to be willing to follow Jesus whatever the cost, in our personal lives and in the life of the church.

In our final session on Sunday morning, Kim opened by asking how many years it had been since the people gathered had first started following Jesus.  By far the majority of us were fairly long in the tooth, and this set up a challenge to prioritise evanglism in what we are doing as church and to structure church to be welcoming to those who are new to the adventure of following Jesus.  As Kim spoke from the encounter of blind Bartimaeus with Jesus, and talked about "the shout that stopped God", we were encouraged to understand the need for the extravagant grace of God; and for us to be church in a way that we know how desparate we are for God and that we help those who have not received mercy to come to the place of crying out for mercy as well.


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Working Rhythms & White Ribbons

Working Rhythms & White Ribbons

I was told when I took up the post here that 6 months is the turning point in parish ministry, after which you are no longer “new” – I’m now into the season of being part of the furniture!  Well, we’re certainly glad to be finding our feet, and grateful for the warm welcome - so thank you.

I still have a few firsts left, and I’m especially looking forward to my first Christmas here, completing the year of Sunday worship on my 40th birthday the Sunday after Christmas!   Do look out for a Christmas card from the churches coming to you with details of all the seasonal events.  Next year will see a few changes to the Sunday service pattern, and already I can see both big encouragements and big challenges looming for us in 2015.

I often wear a white ribbon, and when you receive this magazine, we’ll be right in the midst of White Ribbon Fortnight, so I’d like to explain what it’s about.  After 3 inspiring courageous South American sisters, the Mirabels, were assassinated, an annual “International Day of protest against violence against women” was established every 25th November, from 1981.

In 1991, after 14 women were shot dead in Montreal University just for being female, men in Canada realised they had a vital role to play - they realised men are the initiators of so much violence, so they asked men to wear a white ribbon between 25 Nov and 10 Dec (Global Human Rights Day), as a pledge that they would "never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls". Over 60 countries have since adopted the practice.

White Ribbon Launch Event 2012Since I became aware of the need for the church to have a voice on this, I began to write and speak about it and found from personal experience that the statistics are true.  The Secretary-General's in-depth 2006 study revealed that violence against women is the most common but least punished crime in the world.  Globally, it found that women aged 15-44 are more likely to be maimed or die as a result of male violence than through cancer, malaria, traffic incidents and war combined; and that domestic violence is the most common form of abuse worldwide.  The reality is that it's on our doorsteps, and it takes many forms.  See for more.

I want the churches to be equipped, aware and active in this area and we’ve been working on it.  You can join me in clipping on a White Ribbon.  Please do be in touch or pick one up from the back of church.


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Messy Church is 2!

Messy Church is 2!

Mulbarton Infant School hall was alive with activity on Thursday 21 August as Messy Church gathered again. Amazingly it was our 2nd birthday!  Sixty one of us gathered:   31 adults and 30 children.  It was fun and it was messy!

Our theme was "Honesty and Fairness" and we explored what it means to live like Jesus by being 'Honest and Fair'.  We used the story of Jesus meeting Zacchaeus to help us and our crafts came from that story.

We made palm trees to remind us that Zacchaeus climbed the tree so that he could see Jesus.   We made a figure of Zacchaeus who could 'grow', to remind us that after Zacchaeus met Jesus he became a new man and could truly stand tall. We made purses to remind us Zacchaeus met Jesus and then gave half of all he owned to the poor and paid back four times the amount of money he had stolen from people.  As our prayer craft, we made hand wreaths to remind us how we can be honest and fair.  Zaccheus stole with his hands from people but then meeting Jesus changed him and he gave back what he stole.

Our new activity was having a puppet theatre and hand puppets so we could explore the story for ourselves.  The puppets are part of our community knitting project and we hope to 'knit the Bible' before we're finished!

Adrian as ZacchaeusAdrian told the story after our craft time.  It was fantastic - see for yourself from the photo!  He dressed up as Zacchaeus and told the story in a song.  Then he explained how Jesus made the difference to Zacchaeus' life.   After meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus changed from a cheating tax collector who nobody liked to someone who was honest and fair and wanted to give his money away rather than rob other people.

After singing the Zacchaeus song together and praying for God's to help us live
honestly and fairly as Jesus would, we had a great lunch including birthday cake.

As a team we are so grateful to all those who come along to assist with crafts and those who help with baking for lunch.  It is a wonderful way of working
together across all the parishes.  Donations came to £46 which is an additional blessing and goes towards resources for crafts next time.

Our next Messy Church gathering will be in half term on Thursday 30 October from 10 am to 12 noon including lunch in Mulbarton Infant School hall. Do come and join us! 

 Cathy Nicholls on behalf of the Messy Church Team


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Permission to discuss!

Permission to discuss!

Do you like to have a good old natter about the stuff that matters? I do. I can’t see what the latest gadget means, or money, power, knowledge, anything really, without other people to share them with or use them for. As a Christian, I see that need for conversation and connection with others as a reflection of God in us. God is personal. No surprise that we are too. Whatever the case, we all need to talk, to listen, to be understood, to connect.

The trouble is that we sometimes find our attempts to connect end badly. So, we learn to avoid certain people, certain topics, certain taboos. Life is safer - but less interesting! The old adage about never talking religion and politics is borne out of this. If we talk about stuff that people feel strongly about, we risk offending, and then things can turn nasty - so let's talk about the weather, sport and our latest consumer purchases instead. Stay safe! Be afraid! I learnt early in life that this was ultimately an uninspiring way to live.

In childhood, I just agreed with what my parents told me and what I learnt at school and watched on the telly. I was a Christian by default, because I went with the flow. In my teenage years, I realised that I didn't have to go with the flow and I was free to think what I wanted, and behave as I pleased. It was quite a revelation. Ironically, though, I just ended up drifting with a different crew, as my peers and I tried to navigate together, none of us really knowing where to go or why we were here. Pretty soon, it was less about navigating, and more about enjoying the taverns en route! I was stuck in a rut. That was when my Christian parents' marriage ended and my atheist best friend tried to commit suicide. Suddenly, I knew life was no game and I couldn't just drift my parents' way or my friends' way. Finally I was ready to do real talking, to listen, to discuss, to explore, to engage, to find out where to go and why I was here.

Since then, I haven't stopped seeking to listen, to understand others and to discuss. With Jehovah’s Witnesses, Nepalese Buddhist monks, all manner of Christians from all denominations in several countries, a variety of humanist atheists and more, I’ve hunted out some really fascinating conversations. That hunt has led me to some firm Christian convictions - but my appetite for discussion is still strong, and my search for truth goes on. Daring to talk about big things can be risky, but if we can find a safe place to think big thoughts, why not grab it?!

The “Alpha Course” is one of the best places for doing this sort of exploration and is what it accounts for its enormous success, with over 20 million people having taken part in 169 nations.  And it's coming to us in October.  Check it out!



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Month two in the Rectory household!

Month two in the Rectory household!

Thank you to so many people for giving Sarah, Toby, Naomi and I such a warm welcome to this group of villages and group of churches.  For us, this continues to be a season of "looking, listening and learning".  There are a few hundred new faces I've encountered; I'm well into triple figures on the names I've learnt; and I am slowly getting to know the stories behind some of the names.  I have begun to pray systematically for each of our church members, rotating through several households each week, and would be happy to extend that to anyone who would like to be included in that practice.  I'm finding that's also good for my prayer life, and for getting to know the fold, so win-win on that front.

There is still a lot of learning to be done, but I am also now starting to reflect and re-imagine, as together we seek God for guidance as to the way forward for us at this time of transition.  Please pray for the various PCCs as we meet and think big thoughts, and also for the benefice steering group that will be coming together this month.  There is certainly a diversity of styles on offer across the group of churches, which is encouraging to me, and evident in the range of Easter services available.

I hope that we can continue to grow in mutual appreciation of what we each bring, and that between us we can develop stronger connections across the board to enable us to bring something of the love of God to our communities and help make the world a better place in a variety of meaningful ways.   I’m looking forward to making more connections outside of the churches personally by having three “Open Rectory” events in spring, and by going out to do some visiting in the summer months, as part of the Hope 2014 "Who Cares?" initiative.  If you know anyone who would especially welcome a visit, please do be in touch.


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